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Bono supports Cap and Share

OK, this time I will not mention Bono’s self serving tax planning to pass on news that he supports Cap and Share (or Dividend) as a way of addressing both climate change and poverty. Writing itn he NYT (hat tip Mike Sandler writing in Feasta discussion board), he nominates the idea as one of ten good things in the World today.

An Equal Right to Pollute (and the Polluter-Pays Principle)

In the recent climate talks in Copenhagen, it was no surprise that developing countries objected to taking their feet off the pedal of their own carbon-paced growth; after all, they played little part in building the congested eight-lane highway of a problem that the world faces now.

One smart suggestion I’ve heard, sort of a riff on cap-and-trade, is that each person has an equal right to pollute and that there might somehow be a way to monetize this. By this accounting, your average Ethiopian can sell her underpolluting ways (people in Ethiopia emit about 0.1 ton of carbon a year) to the average American (about 20 tons a year) and use the proceeds to deal with the effects of climate change (like drought), educate her kids and send them to university. (Trust in capitalism — we’ll find a way.) As a mild green, I like the idea, though it’s controversial in militant, khaki-green quarters. And yes, real economists would prefer to tax carbon at the source, but so far the political will is not there. If it were me, I’d close the deal before the rising nations want it backdated.  (link to article)

So progress of sorts where a natural commons and its rightful benficiaries are recognised by a person with a serious stake in the current system.  Full marks.  But sadly Bono does not quite make the moral insightful link to the virtual commons of culture.  In the same piece he pleads for Chinese sytle crackdown on music freeloaders.  We accept that struggling musicians and composers need financial reward but there are better ways that the heavy hand of copyright law.   David Bollier of On the Commons could enlarge his perspective . He writes here and here. The Barcelona Charter for Free Culture launched in November outlines best this approach re struggling artists

We declare our concern for the well-being of artists, researchers, authors or other creative producers. In this Charter we propose a number of possibilities for collectively rewarding creation and innovation. Free/libre and Open Source Software, Wikipedia, and many other examples show that the model of Free culture can sustain innovation and that knowledge monopolies are not necessary to produce knowledge goods. In cultural production, what is sustainable depends to a significant extent on the type of ‘ product’ (the costs of a film for example, are different from those of an online collaborative encyclopedia). Projects and initiatives based on free culture principles use a variety of ways of achieving sustainability beyond the voluntary economy. Some of these forms are consolidated. Some are still experimental. A widespread principle is that of combining several sources of finance. This has the added benefit of guaranteeing independence..

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